Fragment from a Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Statuette
A finely modelled gilded bronze fragment displaying seventeen bejewelled, outstretched arms, spread around like the sun’s rays. Such arms would have been part of a bigger figural composition, depicting the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in the manifestation of Avalokitesvara Sahasrabhuja Ekadasamukha, the All Seeing, All Sided Lord with One Thousand Hands and Eleven Faces, who looks in every direction to save all creatures. Each arm is crafted in a naturalistic manner, with much attention given towards the anatomy of each finger.
Date: Circa 19th century AD Provenance: From the property of a London gentleman; formerly in a UK collection, acquired in the 1990s. Condition: Fine, with signs of aging and brown patina to the surface. Mounted on a custom made stand.
In Buddhist religion, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara vowed to never rest until he had freed all sentient beings from samsara, helping them to reach enlightenment. He soon realised that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. Avalokitesvara became so frustrated and agitated about this unbearable thought that his head split in many thousands of pieces. Buddha Amitabha came to his aid, gifting the Bodhisattva with eleven heads. Avalokitesvara tried once again to reach out to all those who needed help and assistance. However, he found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Amitabha Buddha came to his aid again, appointing him a thousand arms with which to aid the many. Tibetan Buddhist statuettes depicting the Buddha or Bodhisattvas would have been modelled in gilded bronze or brass, and placed in shrines and temples, as a way to accrue the merit needed for good karma in Buddhist religion.
To discover more about Tibetan Buddhist artistic production, please visit our relevant blog post: Tibetan Buddhist Bronzes.